Is now really the time for optimism; or should Bills fans make their annual peace with what has become the organization’s mantra more than a decade.
This is not our year.
No, Bills Mafia, 2013 won’t be kind to you- this coming from one of your own. For a franchise that entered the offseason mired in disappointment, frustration and underachievement, the current model comes away from training camp laden with question marks, injuries and wholesale uncertainty.
Like many, I was caught up in the cosmetic additions to the roster a season ago, which prematurely generated talk of a return to the postseason- a place so unfamiliar to Bills fans now it seems almost mythic. I will not be fooled again.
Does that make me a bad fan, to doubt the progress of my boyhood team? Absolutely not. If a fan base as a whole wishes to continue to follow with blind optimism, with no real tangible proof of progress, so be it. I simply choose to abstain.
There have been too many painful moments to be hopeful; too many gut-wrenching losses that only this franchise can endure before my belief is shaken. I will stand in support, but I can no longer offer up the emotional attachment that it once went hand-in-hand with.
I’ve chosen to go about this shrewdly, perhaps even with a business-like approach. If and when the Bills show progress- real, unwavering progress – my heart will return. But for now, this relationship has been too abusive and too one-sided for too long.
With a MASH unit of a roster, complete with two rookie quarterbacks, Buffalo opens its season Sunday against the Patriots. A win here would do little to stir up a complacent rivalry, but yet another loss would serve as a reminder of just how far this franchise has to go. You don’t go 2-20 in a “rivalry” before the legitimacy of that very rivalry is called into question. The Bills have become perennial AFC East punching bags- and there’s no evidence that this year would be any different.
The bigger question here is, what exactly would a win mean? That the tables have turned? That Buffalo is gaining some ground? That certainly wasn’t the case when the Bills rallied to beat the Patriots in September 2011. After that Week 3 victory, Buffalo went on to go 3-10 over its final 13 games.
A bulk of that roster now gone, Buffalo is again reshuffling its deck while, on the other side, the Patriots are coming off their 10th playoff appearance of the Bills’ 13-year postseason drought.
In all likelihood, the drought will turn 14 at the end of the season. For the drought to come to an end, the Bills will have to do a lot of things right and have a lot of bounces go their way- two things Bills fans know do not happen all that often.